Friday, May 19, 2017

Presidential Election: The Iranians At The Time Of Choice

On Friday, 19 May, 56.4 million Iranian voters are called to the polls to elect their president. The outgoing Hassan Rohani, religious reformer, shares favorite but the conservative camp has considerably strengthened with the rallying of the mayor of Tehran to the former prosecutor Ebrahim Raissi. By their vote, the Iranians will also decide whether to continue the policy of opening to the West initiated by Rohani.


• According to official estimates, participation could exceed 72%. A strong participation called for by the Supreme Leader (see below), would, in particular, be a means of strengthening the regime, while US President Donald Trump adopted a hostile attitude towards Iran, despite The nuclear agreement.

• Even before voting began, there were queues in front of some offices in Tehran, but also in provincial towns, according to images broadcast by television and news agencies. The Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was one of the first to vote.

• Polling stations opened at 8 am local time in Tehran as well as in the rest of the country. They will close, for the latter, at ten o'clock in the evening. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called on the population to mobilize "  massively, and as soon as possible  ", on public television. "  When you do a good deed, you must do it as soon as possible,  " the Supreme Leader said.

• Several politicians have already indicated where they would vote. Former President Khatami, for example, declared that he would vote "  in the early hours of the morning  " in Jamârân, in the north of the capital. One of the four candidates, Mostafa Hashemitaba had to do his citizen duty around 8:30 am in the east of the capital.

A campaign conducted drums beating


As a reminder, the electoral campaign officially began on April 21 and took place for less than a month. The candidates have multiplied, at an unbridled pace, press conferences but also monstrous gatherings. This was particularly the case for Hassan Rohani last Saturday when 20,000 of his supporters found him in a stadium in the western suburbs of the capital. Raissi responded with a similar demonstration on Tuesday in a huge prayer room in Tehran.
Of the 1600 applications submitted in mid-April, the Council of Guardians, the body responsible for ensuring, among other things, the smooth running of the elections, retained only six, eliminating former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. And if on Friday only four of them solicit the votes of the voters, it is that the games of the alliance, customary in the Iranian electoral game, were again at work.

In the reforming camp, Vice President Eshagh Jahanguiri withdrew in favor of his superior, as expected. During the campaign, he mostly played the "gun carriers", defending the outgoing administration's record and drawing salutes of criticism from the Conservatives, especially during the televised debates.
In the opposing camp, the mayor of Tehran, the populist Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf finally rallied to Raissi, after many times affirmed that he would go to the end. At the time of the conclusion of this alliance, last week, the two candidates weighed a quarter of the votes. But this is not just mathematics and it is unlikely that all the votes of Ghalibaf refer to Raissi.

The Conservatives also have another candidate, former Minister of Culture Mostafa Mirsalim, who was invested by the Islamic Coalition Party, one of the oldest political formations in the country. If candidate Mirsalim chastises the alliance strategies and has marked his willingness to go to the end despite weak voting intentions, he hopes one thing: "  that Rohani is not the winner ...  "
Participation, key to the vote

What the moderate camp will look at is participation. "  This is Rohani's bet," said Azadeh Kian, a professor at Paris-Diderot University and a specialist in Iran. There are disappointments to Rohani's policy that they will not vote. There was not as much job creation as expected. The laws have not been changed in favor of women either. Corruption still exists. If the participation rate reaches 65% this would already be good, around 50% the moderates would be penalized.  "

The disappointed, this is the electorate on which plans to capitalize Raissi. During the campaign, the Conservatives did not cease to call Hassan Rohani "candidate of the rich  ", posing as defenders of the disadvantaged classes. It is true that if growth is expected to reach 5.2% this year, and the outgoing administration has managed to divide inflation by three. But the Iranians, particularly the less well-off, complain that they do not feel the effects. Same strategy on the nuclear agreement, a "  badly negotiated" agreement from which the Iranians emerge great losers, according to Rohani's opponents.

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